Taylor vs Martin Acoustic Guitars: Which are the Best?


Taylor and Martin are two of the most popular and frequently compared acoustic guitar brands. If you’re looking for an exceptional quality acoustic guitar, then you can’t go wrong with either. But how do you know which is the best brand for you?

In this article, I’ll compare the tone and playability of Martin and Taylor acoustic guitars as well as break-down the ranges so you can see which models are most suitable for you.

The Quick Answer

Martin acoustic guitars have a warmer tone with more bass and lower-mids than Taylor guitars which have a brighter and more modern tone with more treble and upper-mids. In general, Taylor guitars allow you to adjust the action more easily due to their adjustable necks.

Martin Acoustic GuitarsTaylor Acoustic Guitars
Warmer tone with more bass and low-midsBrighter tone with more treble and upper-mids
Use X-bracing primarilyUse V-bracing primarily
Cannot adjust neck angleCan adjust neck angle
Larger fretboard radiusSmaller fretboard radius
Martin vs Taylor acoustic guitars

Brand Overview

Before we jump into the comparisons, let’s go through a quick overview of each brand and the shapes available so you can see what kinds of acoustic guitars are comparable.

Taylor

Taylor make acoustic guitars in several shapes:

  • Grand Concert: small body
  • Baby: 3/4 size dreadnought
  • Grand Auditorium: mid-sized guitar
  • Big Baby: 15/16 size dreadnought
  • Dreadnought
  • Grand Pacific: round shoulder dreadnought
  • Grand Theatre: scaled-down version of the Grand Orchestra
  • Grand Symphony: larger than a Grand Auditorium with a soundport cutaway
  • Grand Orchestra: super jumbo style
  • Jumbo: only available for custom orders currently

Here are some images (all link to Amazon) to show the different shapes.

Grand Concert

Grand Auditorium

Grand Symphony

Grand Pacific

Dreadnought

Grand Orchestra

Taylor use 3 digit naming system to identify each model:

  • 1st Digit: the series. Models in the same series have the same back and side wood.
  • 2nd Digit: string number and top wood hardness. 1 = 6 string with soft top wood e.g. spruce, 2 = 6 string with hard top wood, 5 = 12 string with soft top wood, 6 = 12 string with hard top wood.
  • 3rd Digit: body shape. 0 = dreadnought, 2 = grand concert, 4 = grand auditorium, 6 = grand symphony, 7 = grand pacific, 8 = grand orchestra.

Some models also have 1 or 2 letters after them. An “E” indicates that it’s an acoustic-electric model and a “C” indicates that it has a cutaway.

Martin

Martin make several acoustic guitar shapes which are all coded:

  • 0
  • 00
  • 000 (Auditorium)
  • OM (Orchestra)
  • GP (Grand Performance)
  • M (Grand Auditorium)
  • D (Dreadnought)
  • J (Jumbo)

The acoustic-electric versions all have an “E” at the end of the product name.

Here are images (all link to Amazon) of some of the different Martin shapes.

Dreadnought

GP

0

00

000

Comparable Shapes

Here is a list of comparable acoustic guitar shapes from Taylor and Martin, since they all use different naming systems.

  • Small body: Taylor Grand Concert and Martin 0/ 00 shapes
  • Mid-Sized: Taylor Grand Auditorium and Martin 000/ OM/GP shapes
  • Dreadnought: Taylor Dreadnought/ Big Baby/ Grand Pacific and Martin Dreadnough (D) shapes
  • Large-Body: Taylor Grand Orchestra/ Grand Symphony and Martin Jumbo shapes

Check out my in-depth comparison between the Taylor GS Mini and Martin Little Martin.

Tone Comparison

Martin acoustic guitars typically have a classic sound with more emphasis on the bass and lower-mids giving them a warmer and fuller tone compared to Taylor guitars which have more emphasis on the treble and upper-mids giving them a more modern tone with increased clarity.

It’s important to note that these generalisations can get thrown out of the window depending on which models are being compared. The tone of an acoustic guitar varies depending on the shape, tone wood and bracing pattern used and each guitar in the range will sound different.

Most modern Taylor guitars use V-class bracing resulting in a brighter tone, whereas Martin guitars typically use X-class bracing which sounds warmer and fuller.

Check out my comparison between X and V-Class bracing to learn about the differences.

Here are some YouTube comparisons of similar Taylor and Martin models so you can listen to the difference. It’s really best to try the models in your price range out in person in the store so you can listen to the differences and decide which one sounds best to you.

Comparison #1 Taylor Builder’s Edition 717 vs Martin HD-28

Comparison #2 Taylor 314 vs Martin 00-18

Taylor 214ce Deluxe vs Martin GPC-13e

Comfort and Playability

Taylor acoustic guitars are generally easier and more forgiving than Martin acoustic guitars. Taylor acoustic guitars allow you to adjust the neck angle to get the ideal action whereas Martin guitars have a set neck so you cannot adjust the action. Taylor guitars typically have a smaller fretboard radius.

Playability and comfort is very subjective though, and both brands make guitars with different neck profiles and shapes to suit different players. It’s always recommended to try different models in a guitar store to know what feels best to you.

Country of Manufacture

Taylor and Martin both produce their guitars in Mexico and the USA. Taylor make their more affordable guitars in Mexico which range between $500 and $1500. Their more premium guitars typically start at $1300 and are made in the USA. Martin make most models under $1300 in Mexico and most models over $1300 in the USA. This means that similarly priced guitars from both brands are highly likely to be made in the same country.

Range Comparison

Now we’ve been through some comparisons, I wanted to put together some tables so you can find comparable models from Taylor and Martin easily and quickly. The tables below are split into different body shapes and are all ordered from the lowest to the highest price (at the time of writing).

The tables are very large because they contain pretty much every model available from Taylor and Martin at the time of writing but try not to get overwhelmed by looking at every entry! The tables are just here so you can pick out models that have suitable specifications in your price range so you can compare them further.

Categories:

  • Small Body
  • Mid-Sized
  • Acoustic
  • Large Body

Small Body

  • Taylor Grand Concert and Martin 0/ 00 shapes
GuitarAcoustic-ElectricOriginTop WoodBack and SidesPrice
Taylor Academy 12NoMexicoSpruceLayered Sapele$499
Martin 0-X1E HPLYesMexicoMahoganyMahogany$500
Martin 00X1AEYesMexicoSpruceMahogany$600
Martin 00-15MNoUSAMahoganyMahogany$1300
Taylor GT Urban AshNoUSASpruceAsh$1399
Taylor AD22eYesUSAMahoganySapele$1599
Taylor GTe Urban AshYesUSASpruceAsh$1599
Taylor 312 V-ClassNoUSASpruceSapele$1799
Taylor 322 V-ClassNoUSAMahoganyBlackwood$1899
Taylor AD12eYesUSASpruceEbony$1999
Taylor 412ce V-ClassYesUSASpruceOvangkol$2399
Taylor 412e-R V-ClassicYesUSASpruceRosewood$2499
Martin 00-18 StandardNoUSASpruceMahogany$2500
Martin 0-18 StandardNoUSASpruceMahogany$2500
Taylor 412ce-R V-ClassYesUSASpruceRosewood$2599
Martin CEO-7 00NoUSASpruceMahogany$2700
Taylor 712ce V-ClassYesUSASpruceRosewood$2999
Taylor 712ce V-ClassYesUSASpruceRosewood$2999
Martin 00-28 StandardNoUSASpruceRosewood$3200
Martin 00L Fly Fishing ParlorNoUSASpruceAlves$3400
Taylor 612ce V-ClassYesUSASpruceMaple$3499
Taylor 612e V-ClassYesUSASpruceMaple$3549
Taylor 812ce V-ClassYesUSASpruceRosewood$3699
Taylor 812c V-ClassYesUSASpruceRosewood$3699
Taylor 812ce V-ClassYesUSASpruceRosewood$3699
Taylor 812e DeluxeYesUSASpruceRosewood$4049
Taylor GT K21eYesUSAKoaKoa$4699
Martin 00-17 Authentic 1931NoUSAMahoganyMahogany$4800
Taylor K22ce V-ClassYesUSAKoaKoa$5199
Taylor 912ce V-ClassYesUSASpruceRosewood$5199
Taylor K22ce V-ClassYesUSAKoaKoa$5199
Taylor 912ce V-ClassYesUSASpruceRosewood$5199
Taylor Builder’s Edition 912ce V-ClassYesUSASpruceRosewood$5499
Taylor vs Martin small-body acoustic guitar ranges

Mid-Size

  • Taylor Grand Auditorium and Martin 000/ OM/GP shapes
GuitarAcoustic-ElectricOriginTop WoodBack and SidesPrice
Martin 000 Jr-10NoMexicoSpruceSapele$500
Martin Special 000 X SeriesYesMexicoRosewoodRosewood$500
Martin Special C Series Style 000YesMexicoHPLHPL$550
Martin OMC-X1E HPLYesMexicoHPLHPL$550
Martin GPC Special Koa X SeriesYesMexicoKoaKoa$600
Martin Custom 000-X1AEYesMexicoSpruceRosewood$600
Martin 000-X2EYesMexicoSpruceMahogany$600
Martin Special 000 X1AE StyleYesMexicoSpruceMahogany$600
Martin 000 Jr-10EYesMexicoSpruceSapele$650
Martin GPC-X2EYesMexicoSpruceRosewood/ Ebony/ Mahogany$700
Martin Special 000 Cutaway X StyleYesMexicoHPLHPL$750
Martin 000-10EL Road SeriesYesMexicoSapeleSapele$760
Taylor 114e Grand AuditoriumYesMexicoSpruceLayered Walnut$799
Martin Special GPC 10 Road SeriesYesMexicoSapeleSapele$800
Taylor 214ce Grand AuditoriumYesMexicoSpruceLayered Rosewood$999
Martin Special 000 All-SolidNoMexicoSpruceSapele$1000
Martin GPC-11E Road SeriesYesMexicoSpruceSapele$1000
Martin Special GPC All-SolidYesMexicoSpruceSapele$1000
Taylor 214ce-K Grand AuditoriumYesMexicoSpruceLayered Koa$1099
Taylor 214ce Plus Grand AuditoriumYesMexicoSpruceLayered Rosewood$1199
Martin 000-12E Road SeriesYesMexicoSpruceKoa$1300
Martin 000-13E Road SeriesYesMexicoSpruceSiris$1300
Martin 000-15MNoUSAMahoganyMahogany$1300
Taylor 214ce DLX Grand AuditoriumYesMexicoSpruceLayered Rosewood$1399
Martin GPC-13E Road SeriesYesMexicoSpruceMutenye$1400
Martin GPC-13E ZiricoteYesMexicoSpruceZiricote$1400
Martin StreetMaster 000-15MNoUSAMahoganyMahogany$1400
Taylor 214ce DLX Grand AuditoriumYesMexicoSpruceLayered Maple$1499
Taylor 214ce Deluxe Grand AuditoriumYesMexicoSpruceLayered Ovangkol$1499
Martin Special OMC USA Performing ArtistYesUSASpruceOvangkol$1500
Taylor 214ce-K DLX Grand AuditoriumYesMexicoSpruceLayered Koa$1599
Martin OMC-15MEYesUSAMahoganyMahogany$1600
Martin 000-17NoUSASpruceMahogany$1600
Martin 000-15SMNoUSAMahoganyMahogany$1600
Martin Special GPC 15MEYesUSAMahoganyMahogany$1600
Martin Special GPC Performing Artist OvangkolYesUSAOvangkolOvangkol$1600
Taylor 224ce-K DLX Grand AuditoriumYesMexicoKoaLayered Koa$1699
Martin GPC-16EYesUSASpruceRosewood$1800
Martin 000-16EYesUSASpruceGranadillo$1800
Martin 000-17EYesUSASpruceMahogany$1800
Martin OME-Cherry OrchestraYesUSASpruceCherry$2000
Martin OMC-16E OvangkolYesUSAOvangkolOvangkol$2000
Martin 000-18NoUSASpruceMahogany$2500
Martin OM-21 StandardNoUSASpruceRosewood$2800
Martin 000-28 StandardNoUSASpruceRosewood$2850
Taylor Builder’s Edition 324ce Grand AuditoriumYesUSAMahoganyAsh$2999
Martin 000-28 StandardNoUSASpruceRosewood$3200
Martin OM-28 StandardNoUSASpruceRosewood$3200
Martin OM-28E StandardYesUSASpruceRosewood$3600
Taylor 814ce V-Class Grand AuditoriumYesUSASpruceRosewood$3699
Taylor Builder’s Edition 614ce Grand AuditoriumYesUSASpruceMaple$3999
Martin OM-28 Modern DeluxeNoUSASpruceRosewood$4000
Martin 000-28 Modern DeluxeNoUSASpruceRosewood$4000
Martin 000-28E Modern DeluxeYesUSASpruceRosewood$4700
Taylor Custom Sassafras Grand AuditoriumYesUSASpruceSassafras$4999
Taylor Custom Euro Maple Grand AuditoriumYesUSASpruceMaple$4999
Taylor Custom Macassar Ebony Grand AuditoriumYesUSARedwoodEbony$4999
Taylor Builder’s Edition K14ce V-Class Grand AuditoriumYesUSASpruceKoa$5199
Taylor 914ce V-Class Grand AuditoriumYesUSASpruceRosewood$5199
Taylor Builder’s Edition K24ce V-Class Grand AuditoriumYesUSAKoaKoa$5499
Taylor Custom No.12 Grand AuditoriumYesUSABlackwoodBlackwood$5799
Martin OM-42 StandardNoUSASpruceRosewood$6200
Martin 000-42 StandardNoUSASpruceRosewood$6200
Martin Authentic Series 1919 000-30NoUSASpruceRosewood$6900
Taylor Custom No.20 Grand AuditoriumYesUSAKoaKoa$9999
Martin Authentic Series 1919 000-30NoUSASpruceRosewood$11700
Taylor vs Martin mid-size acoustic guitar ranges

Dreadnought

  • Taylor Dreadnought/ Big Baby/ Grand Pacific and Martin Dreadnough (D) shapes
GuitarAcoustic-ElectricOriginTop WoodBack and SidesPrice
Taylor Big BabyNoMexicoSpruceLayered Walnut$500
Martin D-X1E HPLYesMexicoMahogany/ Spruce/ KoaMahogany/ Koa$500
Martin DJr-10 SitkaNoMexicoSpruceSapele$500
Taylor Academy 10NoMexicoSpruceLayered Sapele$549
Taylor Big BabyYesMexicoSpruceLayered Walnut$599
Martin Custom X1AEYesMexicoSpruceRosewood$600
Martin D-X2EYesMexicoSpruce/ SapeleRosewood/ Mahogany/ Ebony$600
Martin DC-X2EYesMexicoSpruceMahogany/ Ebony$700
Martin D10E-01 Road SeriesYesMexicoSapeleSapele$800
Martin D-10E Road SeriesYesMexicoSpruceSapele$850
Taylor 210ceYesMexicoSpruceLayered Rosewood$999
Martin Special 11E Road SeriesYesMexicoSpruceMahogany$1000
Martin Special DNoMexicoSpruceSapele$1000
Taylor 210ce PlusYesMexicoSpruceLayered Rosewood$1199
Martin D-15MNoUSAMahoganyMahogany$1300
Martin D-12EYesMexicoSpruceSapele$1300
Martin D-13E Road SeriesYesMexicoSpruceSiris$1300
Martin D-13E ZiricoteYesMexicoSpruceZiricote$1350
Taylor AD27 Grand PacificNoUSAMahoganySapele$1399
Taylor AD17 Grand PacificNoUSASpruceOvangkol$1399
Martin DC-13E Road SeriesYesMexicoSpruceMutenye$1400
Martin D-15M StreetMasterNoUSAMahoganyMahogany$1400
Martin DSS-15M StreetMasterNoUSAMahoganyMahogany$1400
Taylor AD27e Grand PacificYesUSAMahoganySapele$1599
Martin DSS-17NoUSASpruceMahogany$1600
Taylor AD17e Grand PacificYesUSASpruceOvangkol$1699
Martin Special 16 StyleYesUSASpruceRosewood$1700
Martin D-16EYesUSASpruceMahogany/ Rosewood$1750
Taylor 317 Grand PacificNoUSASpruceSapele$1799
Martin Special CarpathianYesUSASpruceBlackwood$1900
Martin D-18NoUSASpruceMahogany$2500
Taylor 327e Grand PacificYesUSAMahoganyBlackwood$2199
Taylor Builder’s Edition 517NoUSASpruceMahogany$2699
Martin Special 18 Style VTSNoUSASpruceMahogany$2800
Taylor Builder’s Edition 717NoUSASpruceRosewood$2899
Martin D-28NoUSASpruceRosewood$3000
Martin HD-28NoUSASpruceRosewood$3200
Martin D-35 StandardNoUSASpruceRosewood$3200
Martin Special 28 Style AdirondackNoUSASpruceRosewood$3300
Martin Custom DreadnoughtNoUSASpruceDreadnought$3500
Martin HD-28E-Z StandardYesUSASpruceRosewood$3600
Martin D-18E Modern DeluxeYesUSASpruceMahogany$4000
Martin D-18 Modern DeluxeYesUSASpruceRosewood$4000
Martin Special 28 Style BearclawNoUSASpruceRosewood$4095
Martin Special 35 Style BearclawNoUSASpruceRosewood$4435
Martin D-28E Modern DeluxeYesUSASpruceMahogany$4700
Martin D-41NoUSASpruceRosewood$5000
Martin D-42NoUSASpruceRosewood$6200
Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 AgedNoUSASpruceMahogany$6800
Martin D-28 Authentic 1937 AgedNoUSASpruceRosewood$6900
Martin D-28 Authentic 1937 VTS AgedNoUSASpruceRosewood$8000
Martin D-45 StandardNoUSASpruceRosewood$9500
Taylor vs Martin dreadnought acoustic guitar ranges

Large Body

  • Taylor Grand Orchestra/ Grand Symphony and Martin Jumbo shapes
GuitarAcoustic-ElectricOriginTop WoodBack and SidesPrice
Taylor 326ce Urban Ash Grand SymphonyYesUSAMahoganyAsh$2499
Taylor 818eYesUSASpruceRosewood$3499
Taylor 618eYesUSASpruceMaple$3499
Taylor 618eYesUSASpruceMaple$3499
Taylor Builder’s Edition 816ce Grand SymphonyYesUSASpruceRosewood$3999
Martin J-40 JumboNoUSASpruceRosewood$4200
Taylor K26ce Grand SymphonyYesUSAKoaKoa$5199
Taylor vs Martin large-body acoustic guitar ranges

Which Acoustic Guitar is Best for You?

This brings us to the ultimate question, should you get a Martin or a Taylor? My best advice is to use the tables above to identify which models are in your price range and then try them in the store. This will allow you to figure out which feels and sounds the best to you.

If you can, try and do a blind tone-test by asking a friend to play the guitars with your back to them, so you can remove an preconceived notions and decide once and for all, which sounds best to you.

Here are some key points to finish up this article with:

  • Taylor guitars have a more modern and brighter tone.
  • Martin guitars have a warmer and fuller tone.
  • Taylor guitars allow you to fine-tune the action more than Martin guitars.
  • Taylor guitars typically have a smaller fretboard radius than Martin guitars.
  • Martin guitars typically start at a lower price than Taylor guitars and better cater the under $1000 bracket.
  • Taylor cater for the large-body (e.g. Jumbo) and small-body market more than Martin.
  • Martin are better known for their dreadnought range compared to Taylor.

Here are some more articles you might find useful:

Heather

Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

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